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Which baby sandal is best?

Whether your baby is walking or you just can’t resist the allure of tiny footwear, baby sandals are perfect for warm days, letting little feet breathe.

Babies who are walking have different needs from babies who are crawling or not yet mobile, but flexibility is always important in shoes for babies, as it’s vital for healthy foot development. Nautica Kids Kettle Gulf Closed-Toe Sport Sandals are flexible and water-friendly for paddling. 

What to know before you buy a baby sandal

Walkers vs. crib shoes

Footwear for babies falls into two main categories: crib shoes, made for babies not yet walking, and walkers, designed for babies who can walk. 

  • Crib shoes: These sandals are more for show than anything else. They’re extremely flexible with soft soles, which is important for healthy foot development in young babies. They don’t need to be particularly durable, either. 
  • Walkers: Whether your child is walking unaided or cruising around with the help of a baby walker, they need sandals designed for walking. While they should still be flexible, they need soles that are more solid and have treads on the underside for traction. 


Infant sizes 1-4 are for babies from 0-12 months, while toddler sizes 5-10 are for older babies and toddlers from 12-24 months. Some manufacturers list rough age ranges for each of these sizes, but it’s always advisable to measure your child’s feet and buy the exact size needed, since two babies of the same age can be significantly different sizes. 

To measure your baby’s feet for shoes, place a foot against a hard surface so it’s flat and the toes aren’t curled under. Put a ruler or measuring tape next to the foot and measure from the end of the heel to the tip of the big toe. Repeat with the other foot and use the larger measurement of the two. Check the size chart for any shoes you’re considering buying.


Both the soles and the uppers of sandals for babies should be reasonably flexible. Young babies who aren’t yet walking like to stretch their feet, and shoes that don’t let them can be both uncomfortable and bad for foot development. 

Older babies and young toddlers who are just starting to walk require a range of motion in their feet that’s as close to being barefoot as possible. This helps with balance and foot development, so flexibility is essential. 

What to look for in a quality baby sandal

Easy on and off

No one wants shoes that are a struggle to put on and take off their baby — especially once they’re walking and it’s a nightmare trying to get them to stand still even for a few moments. 


Sandals made with water-friendly materials are perfect for days at the beach or lake, paddling in rivers or trips to splash parks. 

Color and design

Babies generally don’t have much of an opinion on fashion, so look for sandals of a color and design you like the look of. 

How much you can expect to spend on baby sandals

A pair of sandals for babies can cost anywhere from $5-$100, depending on the size, quality and brand. 

Baby sandal FAQ

Should babies wear sandals? 

A. Babies don’t need sandals — or any kind of footwear — before they start walking, but tiny baby shoes are undeniably cute. While you shouldn’t put infants in sandals all day long, there’s no harm in them being worn on occasion. 

Once your baby is toddling around, it’s good for them to have bare feet as often as possible. This lets them practice walking on a range of surfaces, boosts their agility and improves sensory-motor development.  However, it isn’t always safe for babies to go barefoot — for instance, on scorching sidewalks or when paddling in water where there could be sharp objects in the bed. In these cases, lightweight sandals are ideal warm-weather footwear. 

Are open- or closed-toe sandals better for babies? 

A. Open-toe sandals offer less stability for babies who are cruising and walking. They also encourage infants and toddlers to grip with their toes as they walk, which can lead to toe deformities. So closed-toe sandals are best for walkers. However, if you’re buying sandals for a baby who isn’t yet walking and is unlikely to walk soon, open-toe varieties are fine.

What’s the best baby sandal to buy?

Top baby sandal

Nautic Kids Kettle Gulf Closed-Toe Sport Sandal

Nautica Kids Kettle Gulf Closed-Toe Sport Sandal

What you need to know: Lightweight and flexible, these sandals are ideal for babies and toddlers. 

What you’ll love: They have closed toes, which are preferred for walking in. They’re water-friendly, so they’re safe for paddling and days at the beach. They come in infant sizes 1-4, as well as toddler sizes.

What you should consider: The soles don’t provide as much traction as some reviewers would like.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top baby sandal for the money

Simple Joys By Carter's Shawn Water Sandal

Simple Joys By Carter’s Shawn Water Sandal

What you need to know: These closed-toe infant sandals are perfect for young walkers. 

What you’ll love: You can choose from four designs, featuring sharks, cherries, polka dots and dinosaur skeletons. The soles provide plenty of traction. They’re water-friendly for safe paddling.

What you should consider: The sizing is a little off, so check the size chart before buying. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Timberland adventure seeker two-strap sandal

Timberland Adventure Seeker Two-Strap Sandal

What you need to know: The strappy open-toe design makes these a cooling footwear option for hot days. 

What you’ll love: Thanks to the two-strap design, they’re easy to put on and take off little feet. They’re durable and comfortable with a grippy sole. The synthetic upper won’t get damaged by water.

What you should consider: Due to the open toe, they’re not ideal as a main shoe for babies who can walk. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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